Both the Michigan and the USC football programs have been sited by the NCAA and are under investigation. However, that is where the similarity stops.
The second most impressive fact about the Michigan football program is that it has the most wins in NCAA history. The most impressive fact is that the Michigan program has never before been sited for a violation. This time they were investigated for having practices during and before the regular season that exceeded the permitted length.
Coach Rich Rodriguez was ratted out by a couple of his former players. They didn’t like the practices but more than that they didn’t like the system that Rodriguez bought from West Virginia. The biggest problem for the program is not the NCAA but the fact that the Michigan faithful don’t like Rodriguez or his system much either.
Rodriguez changed the system from the Big 10 traditional run first and pocket passing to the unique quarterback-centric run and shoot style. That has cost him top recruits by the former staff including now Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett who will compete for the top QB in the 2011 NFL Draft. Michigan fans that had seen their team lose year after year to “that team down south” (Ohio State) were thrilled when Mallett signed to play for the Blue. The fans demanded that Coach Carr be fired after the Blue lost to Appalachian State 34-32 on Sept. 1 2007. Those same fans were furious when Mallett left and sat out in 2008 to be able to play for another BCS school. He knew he would never shine in the Rodriguez scheme.
Rodriguez didn’t have a Michigan pedigree never having coached or played for the team. Strike 1.
No change in the basic system in football has an immediate improvement in the bottom line–the win and loss record. In his first 2 seasons, Rodriguez was 8-16. That was strike 2.
And now despite the insignificant nature of the NCAA violation, it may well become the 3rd and final strike. As trivial as this violation is, it might be the excuse to fire Rodriguez.
In total contrast to Michigan, USC is the champion of the R E A L L Y B I G NCAA violation. If you need any evidence about how serious the list of infractions at USC are, just consider that Coach Pete Carroll beat feet out of town. He left a 4M salary despite 2 national championships, a 34 game winning streak, 3 Heisman Trophy winners, 6 BcS bowl wins, 33 straight weeks as #1 in the AP, and a total record of 97-19. USC hired Tennessee HC Lane Kiffin who was a walking talking violation himself.
USC has now had 6 “substantial” violations since 1953 when the NCAA began tracking school’s records. That also makes them #1 but this list is not so prestigious.
The “latest” problem, if you can call something that started in 2006 recent, is the parents of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush getting the rent of a house and other gifts totally a reported 280K. A federal investigation of extortion claims by Bush against a “want to be” sports agent resulted in the discovery tapes of conversations about the payments and gifts. There are also allegations that 2009 star RB Joe McKnight received illegal payments and gifts. The NCAA has yet to decide the guilt or penalty if any for the case.
The violation bug must be contagious because the basketball team caught it. Prize recruit O.J. Mayo was in trouble more than he was not. The NCAA investigated a claim by Yahoo Sports that Mayo received money and gifts in the amount of 200K from a sports agent. USC notified the NCAA that it was imposing sanctions on itself and nothing else resulted.
What were the sanctions? The loss of 1 scholarship for 2 years, the vacating of the wins in 2007-08 (when Mayo played) and a reduction in recruiting days and number of coaches that can recruit for 2 seasons. That is a very light penalty.
There is no question that the violations of USC far outstrip the single violation of Michigan. In addition USC has had a history of academic issues, money to recruits and other problems including arrests of players. And yet the NCAA seems to give USC a pass for their problems and I can not explain why.
When in doubt, follow the money. The problem with the NCAA is they are too interested in money and not interested enough in the welfare of their players and basic fairness of the game.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on
and edits .